Teagasc’s Dr Noirín McHugh: Cows can be bred for docility

Bovine studies can be used to to breed cattle for docility, Teagasc’s Dr Noirín McHugh has told a livestock safety seminar in Teagasc Moorepark, Co Cork.

“Breeding from aggressive animals should be avoided and such animals should be culled from herds,” said Dr McHugh.

“Genetic studies show heritability of genetic factors controlling docility is in the 0.2-0.4 range, which allows considerable scope to breed for docility over a number of generations.”

With farm deaths caused by cow attacks having exceeded bull attacks in recent years, Dr McHugh said cow aggression before and after calving is a genetic trait that can also be reduced through breeding.

She refuted the view of bovine maternal aggression as a ‘physiological condition’, noting that it has a genetic influence.

Teagasc health and safety expert Dr John McNamara added that with the breeding season in full swing, bulls are at pasture and present a particular hazard which requires on-going attention.

A series of Teagasc videos on livestock safety can be viewed on You Tube.


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